If our DVR queues are bursting, then why shouldn't Emmy categories be loaded too?
That would appear to be the guiding principle behind the television academy's recent decision to allow seven shows to be nominated in both the drama and comedy series categories, provided the sixth and seventh vote-getters are within 2% of each other's vote count. Given the number of worthy programs competing for a nomination slot, that razor-thin difference in votes would appear likely. What shows will benefit? Here's an early look at the race for the drama series Emmy.
"Game of Thrones"
"House of Cards"
"The Good Wife"
Prime contenders: "The Americans," "Masters of Sex," "Homeland," "Boardwalk Empire"
Bubbling under: "The Walking Dead," "Scandal," "Orphan Black," "Bates Motel," "The Newsroom"
For your consideration: "Masters of Sex" was the year's best new drama series (HBO's insistence notwithstanding, we still have a difficult time labeling "True Detective" a series in the traditional sense), a smart examination of America's changing values in the Eisenhower era pegged to the burgeoning partnership between famed sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan were excellent as the odd couple in question, deftly negotiating the show's tricky tonal balance. "Masters" was frank and funny and quite sincere in the way it looked at human longing and the need for connection. It deserves a place among its more established competitors.
Analysis: "Breaking Bad" finally broke through with enough voters last year to win the drama series Emmy, and it remains the favorite to repeat for its final, satisfying season. Much will be made of the time lag between the airing of its last batch of episodes (the series ended in September) and the current nomination process, but the show's ending was spectacular enough to linger in voters' minds.
Some academy members will blanch at HBO's decision to push "True Detective" for drama instead of miniseries, but it's probably the only show with enough firepower to prevent "Breaking Bad" from winning again. "Game of Thrones" and "House of Cards" will both return as nominees, though we're much more sold on the worthiness of "Thrones." "Cards" is "Scandal," only not nearly as much fun.
That leaves several series vying for the final two (or three) spots. If the nominations were given for current merit and not past glories, the field would include "The Good Wife," "Masters of Sex" and "The Americans." But though Emmy voters have taken baby steps away from mind-numbing predictability in their choices, some habits are hard to kick. Yes, "Homeland" seems over (just two years after winning the Emmy), though it was infinitely more involving than dull "Downton Abbey," which probably has enough loyal followers to return. You'd suspect that would be true for four-time winner "Mad Men" too, but the first half of its last season (which, as of this writing, we haven't viewed in full) hasn't been exactly eventful. We don't yet know Don Draper's fate, but, at times this season, "Mad Men" has felt just as exhausted as its protagonist.